Carnival: the green trend for a cheap “Mas”

This green trend is not new in the Guadeloupean carnival, it has always been present.

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Group KLÉ LA

When the Akiyo group appeared in the carnival of Guadeloupe in the early 1980s, we knew at once that the cost of costumes to parade was not going to ruin its members. Over the years, the famous military fatigues used at the beginning did not completely disappear but it gave way to other more original costumes while preserving the wallet of the participants. Since then, other “gwoup a po” in Creole or “groups with skin” – not because the carnival lovers wear animal skins but because the drums they use are covered with a goat skin – joined Akiyo in the cultural movement. The number of these bands that promote the Guadeloupean tradition is increasing every year. For this year 2018, the Office du Carnaval de Guadeloupe (OCG) has listed 29 “groups with skin” which participate in the various parades or only a dozen in less than the traditional “groups with snare drum” (39) but there is more…

Carnaval Guadeloupe 2018 - 12

To walk fast

If the “groups with snare drum” parade in the streets, take their time to show the public that came to admire them their beautiful costumes made with the most beautiful fabrics, their nice hats, their jewels and their shoes, the “groups with skin” rush in, walk fast, like soldiers. A good pair of sports shoes is thus mandatory for those who decide to join a “group with skin” because, from the first Sunday of January (date of launch of the carnival season in Guadeloupe) until Ash Wednesday (closing date), he will walk dozens of kilometers on foot. Twenty days later, he will have to walk again on the tarmac for the traditional Carnival “déboulé” (fast parade) of Thursday of the Mid-Lent, a special feature of Guadeloupe. Therefore, it is better to have strong legs to go to “maché an Mas-la” (walk in the Mas)…

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For a traditional and cheap “Mas”

In recent years, these “groups with skin” are showing great imagination, creativity to make their costumes. They recycle objects, divert them from their primary use. The past few weeks, we saw necklaces made with bamboo curtains, dresses made with military camouflage net, plaited rattan hat, calabash bras and other materials such as cardboard, burlap, shells but also leaves, many natural leaves and flowers, sometimes they were made from plastic. In short, it is necessary that the costumes are appropriate to follow this exhausting pace of the group, made with recovered objects and materials or things of nature and especially that they are cheap because, it should be noted that the carnival lovers pay their costumes. In addition, every Sunday, carnival lovers wear new costumes, so they need several costumes for the season but some groups use the old.

In reality, this green trend is not new in the Guadeloupean carnival, it has always been present. For example, decades ago, “to do the Mas”, our elders wore old clothes kept under the mattress to stuff it and used plastic barrels or tin jars as drums…